Naan Bread Pizzas with Ricotta & Shaved Asparagus
Hi friends! I hope you all had a glorious Easter weekend. The weather here has been beyond perfect the past few days, and the trees are at their pastel peak right now. I’m sure I must look a little crazy lately, walking around my neighborhood tripping over the sidewalk because I can’t stop looking up at the flowering trees and the cloudless sky. That’s what spring does to me…makes me look up. Spring brings back my sense of wonder. It makes me dream again and hope again and marvel at the sheer artistry of God’s creation.
But alas, in the midst of all of this beauty, real life continues. The busy-ness continues, and the emails keep pouring in. (Thus the fact that I’m just now writing Monday’s blog post!) We did a massive spring clean-out this weekend and got rid of about half the contents of our closet, gave away bags and bags of stuff to Housing Works, sold books to Strand Book Store, and threw out piles of junk that had sneakily piled up over the past few years. We’re not totally done, but it feels good to get a fresh start.
Lately, I’ve been craving light, spring-y things: asparagus, peas, salads, and especially this simple naan pizza. Clearly I’m on a naan pizza kick (Exhibit A and Exhibit B) but I think this one is my favorite combo yet. I recently discovered the wonders of shaving asparagus with a veggie peeler, to make a lemony raw asparagus salad. It then dawned on me that it would make a delicious pizza topping, with crispy whole wheat naan and fresh ricotta. It turns out that yes, indeed it was! (NOTE: Make sure to use nice thick asparagus for this, not the skinny ones – they won’t shave properly and you’ll end up with a stringy mess. I learned this the hard way…)
I’ve since made this dish several times, most recently for my small group girls last week. I had them over for a last-minute dinner (as in, the invite went out the morning of) so I needed to make something super-simple. I doubled this recipe, everyone helped out and drank rose, and we had a fantastic meal on the table in 30 minutes. That night was so fun – all the laughing and story-telling and prayers around the table literally made my heart overflow with gratitude – and it reminded me once again that dinner parties do not have to be an ordeal! My house wasn’t perfectly clean, dinner wasn’t ready when people arrived, but nobody cared – everyone was just happy to be together.
(Funny story: one of my friends liked these asparagus pizzas so much that she went straight to the grocery post-party and bought ingredients to make another one at home…that night! At 10 pm! Hearing that was the best compliment I could ever receive.) Hope you enjoy these – and the spring weather – as much as I have.
(Photos by Signe Birck)
NAAN PIZZAS WITH SHAVED ASPARAGUS SALAD
Makes 4 pizzas
1 bunch (about 1 lb) large asparagus
2 teaspoons lemon zest, divided
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided*
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated (or shaved) Parmesan, plus more for garnishing
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 whole wheat naan breads
3/4 cup fresh ricotta
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Rinse the asparagus and pat dry; cut off the tough, woody ends (about 1 inch) and discard. Set the remaining asparagus on a cutting board and one by one, slowly drag a vegetable peeler from the cut end down to the tip of each stem, shaving off thin asparagus strips. Shave all of the asparagus (there will be oddly shaped pieces in the center of each stem that you can’t use – either save for a soup or discard) and place the strips in a large bowl. Toss the asparagus with 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, lemon juice, olive oil, and Parmesan, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place the naan breads on a baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes or until brown and beginning to crisp. Divide the ricotta among the naan breads, leaving 1/2-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle with the remaining lemon zest and red pepper flakes. Return to the oven for 2 minutes to warm the ricotta and get the edges a bit more crispy.
Top each naan pizza with a generous heap of asparagus salad and top with additional grated Parmesan (if desired). Cut each pizza into 4 pieces and serve.
NOTE: I love serving this with thin slices of prosciutto on top as well (or on a side plate so people can serve themselves). Also, if you’re gluten-free, you can substitute a Glutino gluten-free pizza crust for the naan, or just serve this as a shaved asparagus side salad.
*If you like things spicy, add extra red pepper flakes.
My name is Anna Watson Carl. In a word, I love food, I love France, and I love throwing dinner parties. Over the years, I've worked as a personal chef, taught cooking classes, edited cookbooks, written for magazines, tested and styled recipes, and traveled whenever opportunity has arisen. But at heart, there's nothing I love more than sharing a meal with friends around the yellow table.
For me, cooking has always been a way of life. As a (mildly precocious) ten-year old, I planned and prepared a four-course Valentine's dinner for my parents, birthing a lifelong passion for dinner parties. That was just the beginning. I've been cooking ever since, whipping up souffles at a chateau in Burgundy, searing filet mignon for a wealthy client's dog (bizarre, but true), butchering ducks for confit de canard in Paris, baking the night shift in Nashville, and bathing the floor of my NYC apartment in turkey brine...the story continues....more
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